ROAD TO WMTBOC 2011: Team Finland aiming for medals


ROAD TO WMTBOC 2011: Team Finland aiming for medals

Here are the favourites. Coach Tuomo Tompuri (former world champion in 2006 as an athlete) can't hide: the Finnish team has got big talents, but, he says, no big pressures. "Saarela has top-level physical skills and he will be close to the top in every race, but especially in middle and long distances. Laurila and also other members of our men tem also have chances for success in the sprint and also in the middle distance. When I am speaking about success, I mean a top-3 placement". Let's not forget the youngster Pekka Niemi, Junior World Champions last year in Portugal. "He might be the 'dark horse' of our team because he is quite young, but he is highly talented especially in DH-sections and with great competitive skills.

The women's team will be very competitive, too.  "For Marika Hara everything but medal will be disappointing. Marika has absolute high level competitive skills. If she loses some seconds when climbing, she will win these multiple back in downhill and other technical sections and in orienteering". Other members of the team will also aim for medals. "Ingrid Stengård has great experience and high orienteering skills. Susanna Laurila and Kaisa Pirkonen have better physical capacities than the rest of the Finnish team members and thus we have also possibility to achieve success in individual races, especially if there will be lot of climbing".

The Vicenza terrains and training maps are well-known. "We are very happy with our training camp in April 2011 - Tompuri says - Someone had a training camp in Italy in autumn 2010 as well, during the World Cup. Now it is easy to focus on the essentials, which are uphill capacity and climbing properties. Orienteering specialties will be the map reading, especially for the narrow streets in the older villages, as well as a possible need of wide rounds in case of route choice".


Finnish team qualification races will be in June 25-26 (http://www.kuopionsuunnistajat.fi/) and National championships in July 30-31 (http://www.liperintaimi.fi/). "But also success in international races (World Cup 2011) will have effect on qualifications. Qualification for the Finnish WOC team will be hard. Only 6 or 7 athletes will be part of the male team. As a coach, I hope that size of women team would also be 6 members"

Last World Cup Tour in Hungary was very successful. " We achieved nice success. I am happy especially because there were some difficulties: most of our team members were more or less sick (flu) during the races. Additionally. most of our world cup team members spend two weeks before Hungary in Mallorca, and they had very hard training there (4-7 hours, or 100 to 250km per day). After that kind of training competitive properties are not at best". Thank goodness!!

Tuomo Tompuri (a former world champion) is one of two coaches of Team Finland (the other one is Mika Tervala). During MTBWOC he will be in charge of the Finnish junior team. He won an individual gold medal at the 2006 World Championships, and a gold medal in the relay. He run his last international races in 2007, before retirement due to injuries.